Consumer purchasing, or buying behaviour, is a decision-making process by the consumer to buy a particular product or service. A consumer will search for, select and purchase a product or service for use and disposal based on personal wants and needs. Various factors influence purchasing habits including personal, social, psychological and cultural factors. Businesses and researchers study consumer behaviour to get a better understanding about the factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions.
Personal factors that influence consumer purchasing include the consumer's age, occupation, economic status, lifestyle, personality and self-concept. Age determines the changes in purchasing choices made over a lifetime. For example, personal tastes in clothing, food, furniture and recreation change over the years and shape the buying habits of the consumer. Occupation and economic status determine where a person shops and the types of products she chooses. Lifestyle is another factor that determines the kinds of products purchased. Personality and self-concept are unique to the individual as demonstrated in the person's buying behaviour patterns.
Social factors that influence consumer purchasing include family, peers, roles and status. Family members such as a spouse, children and parents can exert strong influence on the consumer's purchasing behaviour. Peer pressure is also a strong factor that determines a consumer's purchasing choices. Everyone belongs to a group of some sort, from friends to neighbours and coworkers. Rather than get left out, people purchase products that make them fit in. A person's role in life, for example as a manager and the status that comes with the position, determine certain purchasing choices.
Psychological factors that influence consumer purchasing include factors such as perception, motivation, learning, beliefs and attitudes. Perception is the process by which people select and interpret information to form purchasing decisions. Motivation is the drive that pushes a person to seek satisfaction through the purchase of a product. Learning refers to the changes that occur in a consumer's purchasing choices, arising from experience. Beliefs are the descriptive thoughts a person has about a product, and attitudes are the person's feelings and tendencies toward a product.
Cultural factors that influence a consumer's purchasing include basic values, behaviours and ideals. Culture is the most basic reason for an individual's wants, and specific behaviour in satisfying those wants. Cultural influences on purchasing vary from country to country. In the main culture are subcultures and social classes. Subcultures are made up of groups sharing value systems based on common life situations, for example nationalities, religions, geographic regions. In the subculture is a form of social structure or social class. These classes share similar interests and behaviours that determine purchasing habits. The underlying principle is conformity to social class and culture.